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Protected Minds

Read This Week: Philippians 4

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:4-7 NIV

Anxiety is a profound issue and the most common mental illness in the United States. It’s also not unusual for someone with anxiety to suffer from a myriad of other personality disorders. Occasional anxious thoughts are an expected part of life, but severe anxiety involves more than temporary worry or fear. It does not go away and gets worse over time.

The official definition of anxiety is “a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.” In the context of Philippians 4, anxiety means a divided mind. It describes the mind as looking two ways and not being able to find a place where it can settle down. In this passage, anxiety is an inability to stabilize and protect the mind from wrong thinking.

The Philippian believers were struggling with negative, anxious thoughts and needed help. In verse 6, Paul repeats the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25, where he said, “Do not be anxious.” He is trying to redirect them and us away from self-dependence that often leads to feelings of loneliness and painful anxiety amid life’s difficulties and uncertainties.

This anxiety, according to the Scriptures, does not express trust in God. It is the misplaced reliance on self that produces fear, worry, and emotional suffering. Paul says we should care about and be concerned with our lives but should stop the pattern of powerless self-sufficiency and turn to God in faith. The exercise of confidence in God frees and protects us from anxiety.

The early Christians had plenty of reasons to be anxious in their circumstances. Not unlike us in modern days, they faced societal pressures, family problems, relational issues, and hard times. Paul’s encouragement to stop being anxious is not making light of their problems but reminds them that the power of Christ is greater than their troubles.

The phrase will guard in verse 7 is a military term for surrounding and protecting something. When we seek God and his truth in our lives, He circles and protects our heart and mind like skilled soldiers defending their position. The peace of Christ stands guard outside the door to our inner selves and stops anxious thoughts. It does this in a manner that we can’t understand and doesn’t make sense given the context of what we are walking through. We experience peace when our circumstances suggest otherwise.

It has been said that “prayerlessness is a declaration of independence from God.” When we fail to pursue God, worship, and do life with Him, our minds can become fragmented and susceptible to high levels of anxiety. To become overanxious to the point that we can’t function is harmful and denies faith in God’s ability to help us navigate our lives.

We need to exercise faith and a prayerful approach to life that will submit us to God’s power and control. It allows us to do the best we can in any circumstance, asking God to work with and beyond our human strength. This submission to the Lord is where we find protection and peace. When we realize that the Holy Spirit is working and active on our behalf in both the good and bad moments, we experience stillness and joy instead of crippling anxiety.

13 Comments

  1. Ken on July 29, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    This is a great teaching. Anxiety is such a big deal. Learning to trust God gets developed from a real personal relationship with Him and actively trusting Him and following His instruction, guidance and direction in your life. This symbiotic relationship with God is based in love and results in His perfect peace. Thank you God for our relationship, your help and peace that surpasses understanding.

    • Jason on July 31, 2019 at 10:46 am

      I couldn’t agree more, Ken. The teaching of Philippians 4 is so hopeful and encouraging in regards to making decisions, successful living and just navigating the day-to-day course of life. It is a blessing to know we have a God who will protect our minds and hearts with His truth and promises.

      I love this line from your comment: “This symbiotic relationship with God is based in love and results in His perfect peace.” What an awesome and compelling truth to know that the perfect love of God initiates a relationship with us that we can enjoy every day and one that sustains us in perfect peace. Thank you for sharing that!

  2. Heidi on August 3, 2019 at 10:45 am

    I like how the message shared in Philippians 4:6-7 is “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

    8-9 sums it all up: “Friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

    Also in Isaiah 26:3 it says, “You (God) will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”

    In life, there will always be something or someone who or what you let get you in a place of fear, feelings of anxiety, you let something or someone get you disappointed, you get your self into depression, the list goes on.
    God loves you so much. what did Paul and Silas do?
    Acts 16:25-26
    25 But about midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the [other] prisoners were listening to them,
    26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the very foundations of the prison were shaken; and at once all the doors were opened and everyone’s shackles were unfastened. go read the rest!
    The point is worship God, spend time with Him that’s where you get His peace, He fills you up with His strength to get you through whatever your facing!
    He will help you because He loves you!!!
    God is saying to you and I ” There will always be all kinds of trials, situations happening in your life, come to Me to get what you need, pray ( Talk to me, ask Me and take time to listen to Me) because I have all the answers, will you trust Me?
    As we do life together you will feel My peace and you will learn how to stay content in everything!
    So keep learning, keep practicing how to live in My peace, it’s the best way to live, with Me Love Father God

    What this means to me is, everyday is a new day with Father God and Jesus, and be led by the holy spirit.
    It’s important to stay focused on what God wants for the day, look for ways to help people who wants God”s
    will and His ways. You can lead a horse to the water but you can’t make him drink.
    We have to keep going with God’s flow. The best way is to stay in worshiping God, singing praises, talking to Him, listening to Him, encouraging others to live their life to please Him first, read your bible everyday and share what He puts on your heart, even if people don’t respond to Him, don’t let them get you down, keep seeking for those who do!!
    God knows what you need, trust Him in every situation, It comes from spending time with Him, and doing it together!
    Hope you all have a wonderful day with Jesus.

    • Trina Barnhardt on August 3, 2019 at 1:58 pm

      Philippians Chapter 4 encompasses peace, obedience, contentment, and giving. We have strength in Christ that empowers the Christ-centered principles with which to better understand the person of Jesus in us and the impact on our lives. Like Paul, if we exhort interpersonal and inner peace, quietness and practice the truths that have been taught, then we can understand Christian joy and peace.

      Christ’ spirit and joy equip us to go about our daily endeavors, free of anxiety. Contentment comes when God’s peace is guarding our heart and minds and we can look toward developing spiritual guidance, being a leader and giving back by requesting God’s blessing on our lives, our leadership ability, and discipleship.

      This means a win-win for Christian’s attitude and outlook. If we keep the truth, correctness, nobility, purity, beauty, and admiration for a Christ-centered, praiseworthy and excellent life, Christ will shine far and wide throughout our Christian life.

      • Jason on August 12, 2019 at 2:02 pm

        Trina, I couldn’t agree more with comments about the believer’s hope and how that is understood through the person of Jesus Christ. The hope of Christ expresses itself in joy and peace as we go about our day. Anxiety will have a hard time perpetuating itself in our hearts and minds amid this reality.

        This was my favorite line: “This means a win-win for Christian’s attitude and outlook.” Indeed it is a win-win for us as believers who get to partake in the promises of God in Christ and therefore allow those promises to underwrite our lives and produce the joy and peace in our hearts that cannot come from the world.

  3. Jeri Centers on August 3, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    I got a word out of Philippians 4 verse 13 this week: “When I consider the God of my hope I find I am able every hour to cope. For, His hope brings me new strength each day as I go about, going along my way. When I consider the love of my Savior I find I am able all moments to savor.”

    What that means to me is that God’s love gives me a reason to trust Him as I go about serving. When I consider all that I can do, it is because my faith in Jesus is very stable.

    • Jason on August 6, 2019 at 6:35 pm

      This is a fresh perspective and one I’ve never considered from Philippians 4:13, Jeri. This line really stuck out to me: God’s love gives me a reason to trust Him as I go about doing all I can.

      I love the idea of God’s love being a factor of trust and confidence as we serve others and walk with HIm. True love is trustworthy and instills confidence in our lives and actions. I am blessed by you bringing that out in this passage.

  4. Samuel Centers on August 3, 2019 at 10:06 pm

    As we live this Week in the Life, I have felt the impact so much. God drew me to Philippians 4 verse 6, “Do not fret or have anxiety about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petitions (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God”

    God was saying to me that we all must go through hard times and troubles. That we will be troubled and persecuted for our beliefs. But we will find a place to continue your faith and must always show our belief in Him. We must put our trust in Him always to show us his true plan.

    • Jason on August 6, 2019 at 5:19 pm

      I appreciate the practical insight of your comment, Sam. It is true that there will always be trouble but the encouraging truth and the reason you don’t have to be anxious is that God is with us and will never leave us. I’ve found that is the only way I’ve made it through the difficult, trying times in my life.

  5. almaschmidt on August 3, 2019 at 10:37 pm

    This week, God gave me a song:

    Who empowers us? Jesus.
    Who strengthens us? Jesus.
    Who gives us his love? Jesus.

    We live in a world of different circumstances
    We come together to share our wonderful father
    We are different in many ways, but to Him, we are His perfect children.

    Who empowers us? Jesus.
    Who strengthens us? Jesus.
    Who gives us his powerful love? Jesus.

    Thank you, thank you, Jesus.

    • Jason on August 6, 2019 at 2:21 pm

      I love the message in this song, Alma. It makes me grateful to God for his love, strength, and power but also for the ability to do life with others who are empowered by Him in the same way. It made me think of the lyrics of one of my recent favorite songs, “Build My Life”

      Worthy of every song we could ever sing
      Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring
      Worthy of every breath we could ever breathe
      We live for you

      Jesus the name above every other name
      Jesus the only one who could save
      Worthy of every breath we could ever breathe
      We live for you
      Oh we live for you

      Holy there is no one like you
      There is none beside you
      Open up my eyes in wonder
      Show me who you are and fill me
      With your heart and lead me
      In your love to those around me

  6. Sam Centers on August 4, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    God has shown me so much through this chapter. He is so involved in our daily struggle with people that do not share our beliefs. It truly upsets me when people don’t believe because God is so kind, loving, and understanding of all our troubles. He shines so brightly in some and so dull in others.

    We as Christians know that we must stand in his glory and pray for those that are weak in the faith. It is hard to do, but we know with a true heart and a clear mind, He has an amazing plan for us all if we stay faithful to him. If we trust in Him, we will see the light at the end of the tunnel. We will find a place to worship freely and abound in His light.

    • Jason on August 8, 2019 at 3:26 pm

      I appreciate your encouragement, as well as your candor and honesty about dealing with people with that, struggle with faith or don’t believe. It isn’t easy and sometimes it is downright frustrating as you said. When I am engaged in conversation and discussing faith or beliefs, I like to remember something that a professor in seminary told us years ago. He said when you are feeling yourself starting to get upset or become discouraged, just simply remember 1 Peter 3:15:

      But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

      I loved it when you said, “We as Christians know that we must stand in his glory and pray for those that are weak in the faith. It is hard to do, but we know with a true heart and a clear mind, He has an amazing plan for us all.” It reminded me that we are not trying to win an argument, we are trying to share the hope that lies within us in Christ with gentleness and respect.

      The gospel saves. The Holy Spirit convicts and does the work. We are simply to be faithful mouthpieces for Jesus. That truth and understanding of God’s heart and purpose should govern our thoughts and emotions as we converse and persuade others. It will also help us extend them grace and love them as we should.

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